Shmira Bashavua – Shmiras HaLashon in the Weekly Parsha

I am excited to share with the Beyond BT community the first fruits of a sefer that I have been working on for several years– Shmira Bashavua. Shmira Bashavua is a parsha sefer which gleans Shmiras HaLashon related halacha and hashkafa from each parsha and provides practical tools for taking each idea into the week.

I strongly believe that Shmira Bashavua has the potential to be a Shabbos table staple and play a part in creating stronger Shmiras HaLashon within our families and communities.

The first volume of Shmira Bashavua (Sefer Vayikra) is scheduled to be published and in stores in advance of Parshas Vayikra.

You can download the Introduction to the Sefer, the Introduction to Sefer Vayikra and 5 or 6 selections from Parshas Vayikra.

I am currently looking for sponsors for the sefer. This is an opportunity to play an important role in spreading awareness and learning of Shmiras HaLashon. Here is the link to the form which contains details about these dedication opportunities.
I look forward to your feedback and I deeply appreciate your support.


R’ Noah Weinberg’s Lakewood Seminar

Download the 6 part mp3 series from R’ Noah Weinberg’s Lakewood Seminar.

Kiruv Training Seminar by Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt”l

This 6-talk series was presented to the advanced rabbinical students of Lakewood Yeshiva, New Jersey. The sessions focus on the full array of issues raised by today’s questioning youth. This is probably Rabbi Weinberg’s most comprehensive explanation of the principles of kiruv – and is considered his most brilliant performance.

Researching an Article on Family Estrangement

I am conducting research for an article to be featured in an upcoming issue of Jewish Action magazine (the OU’s quarterly publication) on family estrangement – parent and adult child, adult sibling and sibling, etc.

All interviewees will remain strictly anonymous. If this applies to you, I welcome your participation.

Please contact me at Thank you.

Bayla Sheva Brenner
Senior Writer
Department of Communication & Marketing
The Orthodox Union

Share Your Approach to Making the Pesach Seder Stimulating and Meaningful for Everyone at the Table

Bayla Sheva Brenner, senior writer at the Orthodox Union (OU), is currently doing research for an article (to be featured in the upcoming issue of the OU’s Passover Guide) about people’s approaches to making their Pesach seder stimulating and meaningful for everyone at the table.

Pesach is a pivotal and challenging time for every Yid; we all come to the table with hopes and challenges. “The time of our freedom” is an opportunity to take ourselves out of our communal and personal Mitrayim (again) in order to serve G-d more fully – more of the person we are meant to become. With Hashem’s “Strong Arm” we will experience another Pesach, as well as another step towards true freedom – as a person and as a People. If you have children, please include your approach to teaching them this all-important lesson.

If you would like to share your perspective, please contact Bayla at You can remain anonymous if you choose to.

A Shavuos Retreat at a Center Built for BT Families

Ohr Somayach, Monsey finished construction of their magnificent Beit Shvidler Conference Center five years ago. This beautiful family retreat center was built for the express purpose of providing inspiring guidance and family support services to the Ohr Somayach alumni and extended Baal Teshuva community through shiurim and weekend retreats.

Ohr Somayach launched their family division, Ora V’Simcha under the dynamic leadership of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Naftali and Rivky Reich almost three years ago. Since that time, Ora V’Simcha has conducted over 20 inspiring and informative weekend get togethers which have been highly acclaimed and greatly appreciated by all attendees.

This Shavuos, Ora V’Simcha will once again be hosting their Shavuos Retreat for families with Rabbi YY Rubinstein, Ivy Kalazan, Rabbi Avrohom Braun, Ayala Berney and Rabbi and Rebbetzin Naftali and Rivky Reich. The retreat boasts gourmet cuisine as well as a professional child care program. The retreats are offered on an open enrollment, first come first served basis, and they are normally sold out well in advance.

For those interested in inquiring or attending, please contact Mrs. Shoshanna Kirshner at or 845-216-3970.

Kedoshei Har Nof Fund

The kedoshim who were just brutally murdered, whether they were professionals, kollelleit or Roshei Yeshivah; were also breadwinners for their families. The many widows and orphans left behind have more to contend with them than the gnawing void in their hearts; they must also deal with the gaping shortfall in their budget.

Please give generously to this fund in order to alleviate some tiny part of the pain that they’re experiencing as best we can. You can help shoulder the burden of their plight. However much your donation may hurt, you will be comforted knowing that it may ease some of the pain that the bereaved families of the kedoshim are now experiencing.

In the merit of Tzedakah may Moshiach arrive speedily and in our days to finally mop up the waterfalls of tears cascading down the cheeks of Klal Yisrael!

The Kedoshei Har Nof fund is being administered by a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.

Please click on the link below and donate generously. Please forward this appeal to whoever you know. If you tweet or have a Facebook page please spread the word that way.

The Practical Spiritual Growth Project

The goal of mitzvos is to develop a deeper connection to Hashem.
If we perform mitzvos and say brachos with more Kavanna, they will have a bigger impact on our connection to Hashem.

Good places to start are with mitzvos and brachos that we perform every day. Here are four daily mitzvos/brachos:
1. Birchos HaMitzvot like Birchos HaTorah, Netilas Yedayim, Tzitzis or Tefillin
2. Birchos Hanehenin before food or drink
3. The first posuk of Shema
4. The start of Shomoneh Esrai

When doing the above mitzvos, try to do them with the Kavanna described below.
After doing this for a few weeks, see whether you feel more connected to Hashem.

1. Say one Birchos HaMitzvot with Kavanna before Birchos HaTorah, Netilas Yedayim, Tzitzis or Tefillin. Have in mind:
a) Hashem is the One who commanded this mitzvah
b) You are the one who was commanded
c) With this act that you are about to perform you are fulfilling this command

Simple explanation of Birchos HaMitzvot
Baruch Atah Hashem – Hashem, the Master of all (who always was, is, and will be), is the Ultimate Source of all blessing
Elokeinu Melech HaOlam – Hashem is the source of all powers in this world, and He is the Ultimate Authority of the World
Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvosav – Hashem separated, elevated and sanctified us by obligating us with His commandments
V’tzivanu Al – And He particularly commanded us with the mitzvos I am about to perform regarding…

2. Say one Birchos HaNehenin, before food or drink with Kavanna. Have in mind:
a) Hashem is the creator of what you are about to eat
b) You are thankful to Him for creating and providing this food for you

Simple explanation of sample Birchos HaNehenin
Baruch Atah Hashem – Hashem, the Master of all (who always was, is, and will be), is the Ultimate Source of all blessing
Elokeinu Melech HaOlam – Hashem is the source of all powers in this world, and He is the Ultimate Authority of the World
Shehakol Nihyah Bidvaro – everything was created through His word and power

3. Say the first pasuk of Shema in the morning or evening with Kavanna. Have in mind:
a) You are going to perform the Mitzvos of reciting the Shema
b) You are going to perform the Mitzvos of accepting Hashem as the Ultimate Authority over you
c) Think about the first 2 commandments of “I am Hashem your G-d,” and “You shall have no other gods.”

Simple explanation of the first pasuk of Shema:
Sh’ma Yisrael – listen, hear and understand, individual Jews and the Jewish People
Hashem – Master of all (who always was, is, and will be), upon Wwhom all existence is dependent
Elokeinu – Is the source of all powers and the Ultimate Authority of the world
Hashem – Master of all, guides the world to its ultimate purpose
Echad – Everything comes from Hashem, and some day this will be recognized by all and we will reach our ultimate purpose

4. Start one Shomoneh Esrai with Kavanna. Have in mind:
a) You are standing before Hashem and are about to begin your prayer to Him
b) Hashem is the Source and Authority over everything in the world
c) You are small in comparison to Hashem

Track your progress in the following chart
Enter the number of times you did that mitzvah/brocha on that day with Kavanna
_________________________Day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1. Say Birchos HaMitzvot with Kavanna
2. Say Birchos Hanehenin with Kavanna
3. Say Shema with Kavanna
4. Start Shomoneh Esrai with Kavanna

Practical spiritual growth is possible if we just follow the prescription that the Torah provides.

Shabbos Nachamu Retreat with Shaya Ostrov, Rabbi Label Lam, Mrs. Azriela Jaffe

This coming Shabbos Nachamu, August 8th – 10th, Ora V’Simcha, the family division of Ohr Somayach. will be hosting another of their highly acclaimed weekend retreats at the Beit Shvidler Conference Center.

This retreat will afford participants with an extremely inspiring and rewarding program.

Ora V’Simchas weekend retreats are famous for the way in which all their guests are pampered in their 5-star beautiful facility. Catering will be provided by Greenfelds Caterers who have developed an exceptional reputation for their high class gourmet cuisine. Child care program will be led by Rabbi Ari and Mrs. Sari Weber and all of the centers exceptional hospitality will dazzle the guests until the programs conclusion on Sunday afternoon.

Shaya Ostrov, Lcsw author of “The Menuchah Principle” in Marriage and noted relationship therapist will present together with Rabbi Naftali Reich, the director of Ora V’Simcha. The central theme of the Shabbos will be gaining internal Menuchas HaNefesh and recognizing the essential and critical role it plays in our spiritual growth and the emotional health of our family. The focus of all presentations will be to secure the underpinnings of our homes, ensuring that our home environment is suffused with joy and contentment thereby enabling and empowering our children to blossom and realize their fullest potential.

The noted lecturer and author Mrs. Azriela Jaffe is also a key presenter. Her illuminating and engaging presentations have dazzled audiences across the globe. The program will also hear from Rabbi Label Lam whose inspirational addresses always bring the participants to laughter and tears as he describes some of the more hilarious aspects of family life in his imitable way while imparting an important message along the way. Motzai Shabbos entertainment includes a special program for the children. For more details regarding this program or any other Ora V’simcha retreat, please contact Mrs. Kirshner at 845-216-3970 or

For more details please visit

The Weekly Tefilah Focus Can Transform Your Tefilah in 5 Minutes Per Week

♦ Do you wish your Davening left you uplifted, inspired, and feeling closer to Hashem?

♦ Invest less than 5 minutes per WEEK to optimize the time you are already investing in Tefilah.

♦ Each week, read, listen, or view concisely but powerfully presented material on short segments of Tefilah.

♦ Internalize through daily review when you say that week’s segment in your Tefilos.

♦ Bezras Hashem, be amazed at the improvement in your Tefilos over time.

♦ PARTICIPATE in the Weekly Tefilah Focus program by visiting or call 844-TEFILAH (833-4524).

♦ Sign up for a weekly e-mail, containing text, audio & video, by sending an email to with subscribe in the subject line.

Charlie Harary and Brevedy Help You Move from Inspiration to Change

I recently had the good fortune to find Charlie Harary’s 10 part Audio Course on Change. I listened to it twice because it is packed with so many powerful ideas to help you realize change. I mentioned the series to David, and suggested that perhaps we could make a 3 minute Brevedy video to highlight the key concepts and enable better internalization of the material.

David thought it was a good idea and I emailed Charlie to ask what he thought about the idea. He liked it, so we listened to the series again a number of times to pull the key components and concepts to move from inspiration to change.

We suggest that you watch the Brevedy video first, so you know the key concepts and then listed to Charlie’s Audio Course.

Here’s the link to the Brevedy video, 3 Minutes to Grow, Change, Be Great and the link to Charlie’s Change audio course.

Let us know what you think.

Would You Like to Share Your Experience as a Frum Women Without Children

Bayla Sheva Brenner, senior writer at the Orthodox Union (OU), is currently writing an article about frum women without children.

She will be focusing on how these Jewish woman must dig deep to discover their G-d given mission on this world, and despite the pain and the constant reminders of the lack, are building their neshamos and making a tremendous impact on this world. She hopes to speak with a variety of women from across the Torah observant spectrum Litvish, Chassidish, Sephardi, Baalos Teshuvah, converts, and from around the globe.

Please contact Bayla Sheva Brenner at:

You Give Us 3 Minutes, and We’ll Give You the 7 Habits

We’ve posted about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People a few times here on Beyond BT because it contains many valuable ideas to help us get more out of life.

Many Jewish people we’ve met have read and praised the book. There is one small problem, many people can’t actually remember the habits, and if you can’t remember them, you can’t apply these useful perspectives in your daily living.

We founded Brevedy to make learning faster, easier and more retainable. We achieve this by organizing information into a conceptual framework and presenting it in 3 minute video segments.

Today we’re releasing our first video: The 7 Habits in 3 Minutes. if you watch once or twice, you will be able to understand and retain the basic ideas of the 7 Habits.

Please give it a view and give Brevedy a like, a link or a tweet while you’re at it.

Are You a BT Employing Your Secular Professional Skills to Benefit the Frum Community?

A senior writer at the OU is conducting research for an article about baalei teshuvah employing the professional skills they had previously used in the secular arena to benefit the frum community.

Examples thus far include: french horn player now ba’al toke’a, modern dancer in Merce Cunningham troupe currently working with frum individuals with MS, Parkinsons and other challenges, competitive horse racer turned horse therapist for frum individuals with special needs.

Anyone else fit the bill?

Please contact Bayla Sheva Brenner at:

The Future of Beyond BT

We founded Beyond BT in December 2005, with the goal of helping second stage Baalei Teshuva, those who’ve already made a commitment to a Torah centered life. With the help of our contributors and commentors over the years, we’ve published over 1,800 posts and 29,000 comments on issues of integration and spiritual growth.

Although we’ll still publish occasional articles on understanding the intricacies of the observant community, we’ll be concentrating more on issues of continual Jewish Spiritual Growth, because we think that’s the essence of what being a Jew is all about.

Successful integration into the observant community can only take you so far, and although it’s an admirable goal, it isn’t what Torah Judaism is all about. Judaism is about building a deeper relationship with G-d, your relatives, friends, community and ultimately the entire world. It’s a lifelong, often difficult, unending task, but G-d centered spirituality is the only focus that can unify all Jews and can allow each of us to reach our ultimate purpose and potential.

We’re confident that our existing readership will continue their journey with us, and we’re hopeful that those who were born into Torah Observant families and those who are not Torah Observant will join us to continue to strengthen their spiritual dimension.

Beyond Teshuva Unmasked – A Look Behind the Scenes

Purim is the holiday where G-d parts the curtains and gives us a glance at what goes on behind the scenes. In that spirit, we here at Beyond Teshuva would like to give you a glance at what goes on behind the scenes adminstering the blog. In doing so, we have reproduced a sample of private emails sent to the administrators as well as conversations between the administrators so that all of you can get a snapshot of what has to happen before you see the fruits of our collective efforts here on the blog.

Sometimes it appears to readers of the blog that we don’t give any hard and fast answers. Below I have excerpted an email conversation that exhibits Mark’s ability to cut through the morass of nonspecific advice and give a straightforward, direct answer. The results are life changing.

Dear BeyondBT:

I love your site, it has been so helpful to so many in so many ways. I’m hoping you can help me with my specific problem. I didn’t want to put it on the blog because it is a little personal. Here goes: My 1999 Mercury Grand Marquis has aprox 50,000 miles on her. I recently installed a rebuilt alternator that I boosted to 100 amps instead of the normal 65-70-amp type. How can I make sure that it’s working properly?

Buddy, Topeka Kansas



This is a question we get all of the time. Basically, if the battery in your car is in good condition, the best way to test your altenator is to perform a cold start of your engine. Keep your eye on the voltage across the battery terminals to verify that it registers somewhere between 13.5 to 14.5 volts. If not, double check that the alternator belt is in good condition and properly tensioned then perform the cold start test again.



Dear Mark,

Thank you for you speedy response. Worked like a charm. You the man.




Rock on.



Almost brings tears to your eyes, no?

When people see the blog, they see it as a finished product. They are often not aware of the deep thought and wrenching decisions that go into the determination of what to post and when to post it. Take a look at this email exchange between Mark and me which illustrates exactly what I mean.


I’ve got nothing in the submission bank to post today. Your thoughts?

P.S. What are you having for lunch?




I was thinking of chinese.




I thought you said you were trying to watch your weight.




I am. I might just get some chicken and vegetables, steamed with brown rice and sauce on the side.




You call that chinese food?




You’re right. Maybe I’ll just get some sushi.




Do you mean sushi or sashimi?




Dunno. It’s all the same to me.




Ok. Now that that’s resolved. What are we going to do about the post?




Look, I gotta get back to work. Maybe just throw something together about a BT who can’t eat in his parents house or somethin’.



Not as easy as it looks, huh?

Finally, administering this blog often requires us to discern the nuances and differences contained in the written language. (And I’m not just talking about having a thesaurus handy for Rabbi Dovid Schwartz’ posts). In order to do so, one must have a handle on where the writer is coming from, where they are going and what is important to him/her. I have excerpted a correspondence between prominent blogger and commenter Steve Brizel and Mark and me.


IMO, as a BT, a former YU and NCSY guy, a FYUANCSYABT, if you will, when RYBS addressed the issue of FW vs PD he, IMHO, IIRC, quoted RAIK based on the RASHBA, the RITVA and another acronym that escapes me now LOL. Anyway, when GL posted regarding TFS and EP, I was taken aback. Do you think I should IM him or JFAI?








Where did you find this David Linn guy? He barely speaks english!!




Its not like this is a paid position or something so you take who you can get. What can I tell ya?



And these are just a few examples!

So, dear readers, before you criticize the blog please take into account the time, effort exerted and the acumen applied to get you the finished product.

Happy Purim to all.

Originally posted – March, 2006

For Children of BTs – Would You Like to Participate in a Study?

You are invited to participate in a research study being conducted by Tova Lane, PsyM, a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. The research study is being conducted for a dissertation study. All information recorded in this survey is anonymous. This means there will be no recording of any information which can identify you.

Title of Study: Impact of Parents’ Religious Background on Parenting Style and Children’s Religiosity in the Orthodox Jewish Community

The purpose of this study is to learn about the parenting styles of parents in the Orthodox Jewish community and how it impacts their children’s religious observance. In order to participate in this study you must have been raised in the United States as an Orthodox Jew. You must currently be between the ages of 18-24.

If you are interested in participating please click on the following link to the study is

The Rise of The Growth Culture Shul

A new post on

The Rise of The Growth Culture Shul.

The articulation of the above post was inspired by the Growth Oriented Culture of Baalei Teshuva, the recent Spiritual Connection Issue of Klal Perspectives, email discussions with one of the editors, emails and comments on the topic with Neil Harris and Micha Berger and the Growth Culture Shuls we’ve had the pleasure to experience.